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Lawmaker: Electric Bills Should Show Renewable Energy Costs

Annie Ropeik

The legislature is debating whether utilities should tell customers how much of their electric bills go toward renewable energy. 

Monthly energy bills already show how much each customer pays for things like transmission. Now, Rep. Michael Harrington is proposing adding a line, showing the cost per ratepayer of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS.

The RPS tells power companies how much renewable energy they have to buy for their fuel mix. New Hampshire wants its overall mix to be a quarter renewable by 2025.

Last year, Eversource told legislators the RPS currently costs consumers about $5 a month.

Harrington, a Republican from Strafford, says that represents a choice by the state to involuntarily increase customers' bills.

"We don't have to – the electric system will run just fine without this,” he says. “But we voluntarily imposed this mandate on ourselves, so now I think we should have ratepayers know what it costs."

Asked if he thought electric bills should also include the benefits of RPS, Harrington said that could get too lengthy and subjective. Opponents say his bill singles out the RPS unfairly.

It's not the only bill about the RPS this session – other proposals in the House would slow the program's incremental increase toward its original 2025 goal.

A House committee is planning a work session on how utilities would calculate the program's cost per ratepayer.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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